I am hijacking a sermon from my Pastor for this blog.
Yesterday's message was a gentle, yet pointed reminder needed by all who heard it.
Pastor Wayne spoke on trials and how God in His Word exhorts us to respond, not with complaining and grief, but with pure joy.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
The truth is that how I respond to the trials in my life will either glorify God, or the enemy.
As I snuggle up with Nicky at night, resting with him as he crosses over into dreamland, there has been a likelihood that he will have seizures as his brain shifts gear and switches into sleep mode.
Each night as I lie there with him, I feel the burning and churning in my stomach as I anticipate the 'storms' as he calls them. Sometimes they come, sometimes not. When they do, I leave his room later, depleted and shaken. This is not something you can get used to, or control.
He's a brave little soldier and I've told him that he's my hero, so courageous. But the key hasn't been my desperately whispered prayers as he tremors in my arms, or the authoritative rebuking of whatever causes this in his little body, but the leaning into the struggle, accepting the trial and singing along with Casting Crowns "I will praise you in this storm...".
Something shifts in me, in him and in the spirit realm when I praise...as Alvin Slaughter sings..
"When I praise Your Name, heaven stops to listen, when I praise Your Name, in honor bow before You, when I bring a sacrifice, You're worthy to receive, O' Lord I know You hear me when I praise..."
So I read and absorb another scripture shared yesterday, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3
Pastor shared that while worry and critical thoughts release damaging chemicals into the body's sytems, thankfulness releases healing chemicals. God designed us to give thanks and reap the benefits of this.
He reminded us that if we think this way, and understand the potential outcomes of our trials, then they need no longer be viewed only as trials, but as character strengthening exercises.
As Paul the apostle described his trials, and there were many, he allowed them to chisel him into the image of the Savior. Paul said in Hebrews "I will boast in my trials...so that Christ's power may rest on me...".
We need to dig deeply for the gold within our circumstances.
The author Barbara Johnson stated "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional."
One study that Pastor cited showed that memories of trauma get lodged deep within the limbic system of the brain. This part also affects moods, attitude and relationships. Brains scans have shown that when there is trauma, this limbic centre heats up and glows on the scan. The trauma is accompanied by feelings of cynicism, pessimism, moodiness, negativity, decreased motivation, negative emotions and a score of other difficulties.
However it also showed that with the right kind of thinking, this limbic centre can be cooled down.
Translation...PUT ON THE MIND OF CHRIST.
Not so easy some may say. I agree. At first it may be a grueling, uphill battle. Perhaps notes around the home and office reminding of what God has to say about our trials, and focussed prayer and meditation on this topic. But as we learn, and our hearts begin to shift, we will know the benefits of praising God and focusing on thankfulness.
When we pray as a family, Nicky loves to sing the VegieTale song "I thank God for this day, for the sun in the sky, for my Mom and my Dad, for my piece of apple pie, for the love that He shares, that He listens to my prayers, that's why I say thanks everyday...".
And the song goes on.
He's got it right. The chorus says "A thankful heart is a happy heart..."
Thank you Lord for this teaching. It was needed to help shift my heart. Remind me moment by moment to give thanks in all situations
YouTube - Casting Crowns - Praise You in the Storm